If you examine the difference between the current crisis and previous crises our nation has faced – such as the Great Recession of 2008 – one thing that stands out the most is fear for our personal safety. Not just the fear of personally contracting the virus – although there is certainly that – but also deep-rooted fears that loved ones might get sick because they are not properly protected at work.
Robbie is a homeless man living in Polk County, Florida. He has faced serious physical and mental health challenges and now, in the wake of coronavirus, he feels misunderstood and underrepresented. He notes, “[the government has] already failed us, I believe they should look out for us while this pandemic is going on. It’s a nightmare on top of a nightmare and we feel left out.” How do you self-isolate if you don’t have a home?
Right now, the Trump administration is trying to change the way poverty is measured so fewer people are counted. They’re asking for public comment on their proposal to change the way poverty is measured by April 14. Changing the way poverty is defined under these circumstances is a bad idea: The poverty measure allows for research to show the extent of poverty and leads to standards used to determine who gets benefits like food assistance, housing vouchers, health benefits, and more.
The health crisis and economic crisis are intertwined. The economy will not improve until people can be safe enough to leave their homes. For that, we need COVID-19 testing, treatment, and time. And the economy will not improve if the testing, treatment, and time out of work have buried people in debt and caused them to lose their jobs or homes. In every economic downturn, ensuring that low- and moderate-income people have money to spend is the most effective way to jump-start the economy. That is especially true in this deep crisis.
The global panic surrounding the novel coronavirus has incited widespread anxiety, helplessness, and even panic-buying hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. However, another pandemic response has reared its ugly head: prejudice. COVID-19 panic has exposed deep-seated xenophobia within Western culture and it has led to a disgusting display of hostility toward Asian Americans. This xenophobia has manifested itself in a very racist coronavirus narrative, one that has been perpetuated by some Americans as well as the Trump Administration.
Register now: On Friday, April 3, from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. ET, CHN will host a webinar entitled, “Congress and COVID-19: What Passed and What Comes Next.” Learn about the historic $2.3 trillion relief and recovery legislation enacted by Congress, and how it responds to the massive public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation enacted so far takes some important steps towards protecting people and shoring up the economy. But it does not do enough, and Congress will have to return to ensure that the people most in need get adequate help. Advocates and service providers nationwide need this information!
Now that both the House and Senate have passed the CARES Act – the third round of legislation in response to the nation’s health and economic crisis – it is time to begin focusing on the things that were not included and what Congress can – and must – do in the future. “The CARES Act takes some important steps towards responding to the combined health and economic crisis, and the Coalition on Human Needs supports it,” said CHN Executive Director Deborah Weinstein. “But it does not do enough, and Congress will have to return to ensure that the people most in need – and whose aid will do the most to spur recovery – get adequate help.”
Amanda Hiern is the latest victim of COVID-19 even though, as far as she knows, she has not contracted the virus. The New Orleans bartender and server-turned-Uber-driver had counted on earning fares and tips during the city’s renowned St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but the city cancelled the festivities. Amanda already was behind in her rent because a recent illness left her unable to drive as many hours as she needed. And Amanda’s landlord is threatening to evict her, even posting an eviction notice to her door. “I’m a gig worker so how am I supposed to earn this money?” she asked. “I live day to day – not even pay check to pay check. All my income is dependent on events, tourism, and the bars and restaurants being open. This eviction notice is making me feel like I should go out and risk my life for money.”
Voting by mail has always been a good idea, but during a public health emergency caused by a pandemic, the necessity of allowing voting by mail multiplies dramatically. We must ensure people have the opportunity to participate in our democracy—to share their views about the direction our country should go—and remain safe.
On Monday, CHN sent a letter to all 100 U.S. Senators demanding that the next round of COVID-19 legislation include policies that protect low- and moderate-income people from economic disaster. The letter critiques a Republican proposal that was released on Thursday. “The bill either excludes or provides much less in direct cash payments to low-income people,” the letter states. “Specifically, some people with little income, who need help the most, would be limited to a $600 payment, instead of the $1,200 amount provided to others; some people would be excluded altogether.”
When we consider where coronavirus most likely might incubate, certain venues come to mind: cruise ships. Nursing homes. Locker rooms and big sports arenas. Airport security and boarding lines. Schools and day care centers. Even restaurants and bars, which is why so many across the U.S. have been shuttered. Health officials warn that jails, prisons, and other types of detention centers must be added to this list – and if we fail to take the necessary precautions, not only will it place those incarcerated at inhumane and unconstitutional risk – it will also endanger our families and communities, overwhelm our hospitals and make it even more difficult to “flatten the curve” of the spreading coronavirus.
Nearly two months ago, I was packing my bags for the Spring semester of my junior year. I remember checking items off my early-January to-do list like every college student. I had heard of coronavirus, but it still felt distant. Its relevance drifted in and out of my life through the occasional news headline, chat with a friend, or meme on Twitter. Fast forward to this week, and 157 countries, including the United States, have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been over 218,631 confirmed cases globally and around 84,113 people have recovered. Over 9,345 of these are in the U.S. The outbreak is a topic of daily conversation, I wince a little bit upon hearing a particularly phlegmy cough on the Metro, and my school is telling me to go home.